Q&A: 2016-17 President-Elect David Gozal, MD

David Gozal, MD

An interview with David Gozal, MD, ATS President-Elect.

Q: What are your top priorities as President this year?

A: My priorities are twofold.

Support for travel and attendance at the International Conference is on the decline. In response, we’re exploring alternative conference models that will better serve neighboring North American countries. This brings ATS engagement to our neighbors’ own backyards and should help to diversify revenue.

Implementing new clinical guidelines can be time-consuming and overwhelming. So, we’re working to provide better support to Assemblies in creating and updating official statements and position papers. A few ideas to smooth this transition include better resources, such as technology or dedicated staff. Essentially, we would expand the scope of producing guidelines and equip operational facilitators with tools to help them better perform their jobs. If we help strengthen these roles in managing institution-wide implementation, quality improves across the board.

To achieve these goals, teamwork and shared values are integral to our work as members of the ATS Executive Committee, Board of Directors, and staff. Open communication is needed to receive the most insightful feedback on issues. Ongoing dialogue and close collaboration keep parties informed throughout a project, and it is not the work of one but the work of many that leads to a plan’s development and success. Moving forward, we have decided to relinquish annual presidential initiatives beginning in 2016. The change should effectively permit the ATS’s long-term strategy and enhance sustainability between leadership successions.

Q: How can the Society work to enhance patient-focused care?

A: In the last two decades, the ATS has diligently worked to put patients in the forefront. At the International Conference, this is evident through the patients involved with the Public Advisory Roundtable, from patients who participate to those who present in our
Meet-the-Experts Forum. The PAR is vital to public dialogue on health care, and the program gives a voice to the patient through greater patient-provider engagement.

The ATS Patient Information Series covers a wide range of conditions on the website and in ATS Journals. These are an outstanding means of disseminating resources to the public and sister service groups.

Q: How can the ATS provide more academic capital to its members?

A: The majority of our constituency is clinicians, often with dual role appointments in higher education. Academic currency is essential for career development, and the ATS is a conduit. We welcome abstract submissions, presentations, committee participation, and journal involvement from early career professionals. Also encouraged is participation at the international level, through programs such as the Methods in Epidemiological, Clinical, and Operations Research (MECOR) program, Global Scholars, and International Poster Sessions showcasing the work of young investigators.

The next generation has a major stake in the future of the ATS. Those interested in getting involved will be acknowledged, and with greater involvement comes greater ownership.

I look forward to joining forces with our partners and working together to address the challenges of early career professionals. Recruiting the next generation of trainees into the specialty remains one of the field’s looming challenges.

Q: How does your international background influence your perspective as the ATS president?

A: The ATS is a global Society representing a large number of international countries and continents. My globetrotter background has opened doors for me to interact with diverse members from our sister societies. In Spanish- or Portuguese-speaking countries, for example, I’m able to give presentations or take questions in both languages. I recently did this for three presentations at the 2016 SOLANEP (Latin American Society of Pediatric Pulmonology) International Congress in Florianopolis, Brazil. I spoke about sleep studies and personalized pediatric medicine. Knowing a foreign language and understanding another culture enriches—and creates for more effective—communication.

Q: How has the ATS changed since you joined as a fellow?

A: We have the potential to radically improve how we practice medicine, and we have new state-of-the-art opportunities to engage with members. We should view the present as a critical time to raise awareness about the misperception of what the ATS stands for—not merely as a place for scientists and researchers that is lacking in its offerings to clinicians, but as a true and all-encompassing home for the breadth of experts in pulmonary, critical care, and sleep medicine.

The ATS has come a long way.

I urge members to make it their mission to engage colleagues, whether through the International Conference or in their local chapters. Share the benefits and impact the ATS has had in your life, especially with nonmember clinicians.

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